Sunday, October 6, 2019

'The Hand' Finally Done (Bear Paw Variation)

78 x 90

Today I have some exciting news! I've finished a UFO that's been nineteen years in the making.  (Not a typo and sadly not the oldest UFO on my list!)

Back in 2000 I was taken with a vintage quilt in the Utah state documentation book. (p. 49)  The book called it 'The Hand'  and dated it pre-1900.

I've written a couple of blogs about this project over the years. To see the first blog written in 2012 click here.  In it you can see the vintage quilt that inspired me. I drafted the block from the photo and began making blocks borrowing color combinations (but not placement) from the original.

I made a few blocks now and then, it was not high on my list, but finally I decided to get the blocks done over a winter in Arizona. The sashing fabric I chose didn't work out. This updated blog in 2014, first top shows the completed top with blue sashing having black stars. I tried to like it, I really did, but I fnally realized I would have to take it apart. I ripped out the sashing and chose a brown print. It was a great relief. (If you like the blue better than the brown that's okay. I didn't, so it had to go.)

These photos show the brown print better and closer to the actual color than the full view above.
The top sat for another little while as I did other things and began to think about how I wanted to quilt it. That took time as you hand quilters will appreciate and tackling the basting needs a certain mindset.

           THE TOP                                               

                   PIN-BASTING (ala Harriet Hargrave) 

I finally decided to do alternating diagonal lines in the pieced blocks about 1" apart and a diagonal grid in the sashing, a bit smaller than 1", a classic simple approach. The border was done in a 1.75" diagonal grid.

sorry about this....not focus, bad color... but shows the quilting.

Strippy Backing

So that's why it took a number of years to finish. I hesitate to make the seems to need a lot of explaining beyond "Made 2000-2019"

I wanted to  mention, too, something about size. Plan your top  4-5" larger than what you want the finished size to be; most important if you are planning it for a certain size bed.

The finished top measured 82 x 95
After quilting it measured 80 x 93
After washing it measures 78 x 90 

I always wash completed bed quilts. I like the look after washing, I like knowing it's clean, markings are gone and I like to know the finished size.  I pre-wash all fabrics when I bring them home but I tossed in a few color catchers just to be sure -  and look what they revealed!

No colors bled into surrounding lighter fabrics but the reds and browns often have excess dye even when they've been pre-washed.

BTW, I just checked the original vintage quilt in the book. It measured 76 x 89 - very close to my finished size though it started much larger.

Thanks for stopping by. . .
I welcome your comments

Monday, April 29, 2019

Birds & Baskets. . . and lots of berries!

43" square
 My quilt photographed on black background

About two years ago, maybe three,  I visited the Wagon West Quilt shop in Wickenburg, AZ, owned by long-time friend Martha Walker.  
Her beautiful original designs are inspired by 19th century projects.

I liked one of the samples on the wall. Big ol’ baskets, simple one piece birds, big pointy star shapes. Easy, right?
 (How did I not notice the 1” berries. . . And those amoeba shaped blobs with finger-like protrusions all around? 

So I bought the book and got started. There are four quilt patterns and three wool projects included.

I selected fabrics from my stash for everything except the stripe for the border triangles (which I think worked really well.) 

I made the templates and did needle-turn applique. 

I soon discovered that it wasn’t as simple as it first appeared, but I did get pretty good at round berries.

I looked at this close up photo and noticed I missed a quilting line!
Do you see it?

After all that handwork I decided it should be hand quilted. I outlined all the appliques then decided on a hanging diamond overall. That took more time but I think the result was worth it. From start to finish it was just under two years but I never work on just one project at a time. 

                                Here it is hanging on the wall in my entrance hall.

If you’re ever in the Phoenix area, take a drive up to Wickenburg. It’s a great western town with wonderful restaurants, a nice historical center, a cowboy museum and….the Wagon West Quilt Shop. 
Well worth the drive.

And don't forget to stop by the Prison Tree. From 1863 to 1890 prisoners were chained to this tree because they didn't have a 'hoosegow'. Escapes were unknown.  The wild wild west!
Luckily, I  was unshackled but my friend . . . 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019 - Go With the Flow...or?

Another year has flown by. Again. Whoosh, right?

Notice I avoid the 'R" word. Resolutions  are notoriously repetitive and usually (always)  my initial enthusiasm fades and I revert to just doing my best.
Of course I have some goals, some thoughts about what I want to do, it's ME, remember? But at the end of each year, when I take stock, I find I am pleased with however it unfolded. I've enjoyed the things I chose to do.

That said, I wanted to complete more quilts in 2018 than I did but the non-quilt projects were satisfying and fun--those curtains at the cabin, the potholders and mug mats for family and friends . . .

I coordinated this one
with the mug

. . .a presentation on my Brick series for the state guild in November. That gig prompted me to wrap up that project begun in 2011. Finishing the 9th and last quilt was most satisfying. (You can use the search box on the right column with the word Bricks to see the many blogs I wrote about this series of minis.")

I did get one bed quilt done-thanks to machine quilting:

For 2019 I set a goal of finishing six quilts. I have two that I'm hand quilting that are almost done and several tops to choose from as I practice machine quilting. I've decided to have at least one done by a local long-arm machine expert. I think the goal is specific and realistic. We'll see.

Etc. Time to Write...
I've become more involved with writing over the last few years. I've taken several courses at the Loft in Minneapolis and  participate in a writing critique group at a local library. I enjoy a variety of excellent (free) on-line courses with a writing partner.  Just like quilting, I keep starting new pieces which linger as UFO's of a different kind. So this year I'm trying to stick with one particular piece. It was inspired by my aunt who went into early labor in an isolated cabin in northern MN in the 1940's. What happened after that is a mystery to all. So. I'm making it up. What started as a short story is growing into perhaps at least a novella.

I'm a child of the 60's -  I wasn't really a hippie but I did have some mean bell bottoms (red brushed denim hip huggers) and a leather vest with long long 'fringes'. Now in my 70's, I hark back to a saying from that era.     Go with the Flow.

When I feel myself getting too rigid, overly stressed about one thing or another, I remind myself, Go With the Flow... "Chill" as the kids say today. Take it as it comes.

Then again, in these times, we as a nation must remember- there are times and ways to follow the opposite advice.
Speak up.
 Be part of the solution.


 I wish for peace and tolerance, empathy and hope worldwide in 2019

Saturday, November 3, 2018

"Bricks" Series Celebration

13" x 17"
At last!

It's been a long time but . . .done is done. Here is the ninth and final quilt made from the pieces of a c. 1900 Bricks top I took apart in 2011. If you've been following my blog you've seen the posts of the previous eight quilts interspersed over the years. I challenged myself to see how many small quilts I could get out of that original top.

I've been wanting to wrap this project up for some time but I just kept putting other things first.

The motivation I needed came when I was invited to share this project with the Minnesota Quilt Guild at their November meeting. Carolyn, a member of Minnesota Quilt Project (MQP), the group that documents quilts and sponsors a meeting each year, saw my blog and contacted me.

Nothing like a deadline, I always say. Newly motivated, I dumped out the scant supply of remaining scraps which included some little units leftover from #7. ( the improve piece you can see again if you click here.)

By the time I got #9, this little strippy, done, I was very limited in size and color but I was able to eek out a pieced back by using some white shirting fabric from my stash of vintage yardage.

the back

I put a label on all my quilts...sometimes I write directly on the quilt if a label would be intrusive. Here's what I did on the back of this one.

I've really had fun with this project. I learned a lot along the way by trying different things ie. edge treatments, methods of construction, different battings, different ways to join the layers and the confidence to just create something I like without a pattern or instructions.
Here's a look at how I displayed them for the lecture:

And one more look at the original top:

Maybe you would enjoy working with vintage textiles to create something uniquely your own. Working in small scale allows you to get them done more quickly than large pieces though I may not be a good example. This project spanned seven years but I counted over forty other quilts in all sizes that I made during those same years.  I like to keep lots of plates spinning!

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Happy Quilting!